On Saturday, May 8, Karly McCormack, Abby Stark, Heather Stillians and Val White will play in their final home softball game when the Hoosiers take on the Purdue Boilermakers at 12:00 p.m.
As a class, these seniors have posted some pretty staggering numbers. They have played in 208 IU softball games, posted 414 hits, scored 90 runs, hit 20 homeruns and have batted in 178 runs.
With their collegiate careers coming to a close, the four Hoosiers took a moment to reflect on the past four years and what the future might hold as they begin a new chapter in their lives.
What has being able to play softball at Indiana meant to you?
Heather: It has meant the world to me. I never thought that I would be able to be at a division one university. I was not very good at softball until my sophomore year of high school and I worked extremely hard my freshman year to get some power. I have always been told that I dont have the right body type to play this sport. To overcome that on the division one level is huge for me. I would not trade it for the world. I have learned so much and it will stay with me forever.
Abby: It has meant a lot to me also. It represents everything that I have worked for my entire life and it represents my hard work and my education. I will graduate next year with honors and an elementary education degree. Also, I think it represents my parents and my sister and everyone else who has supported me while growing up. I am really proud of myself and the other seniors of everything that we accomplished.
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Val: After sustaining a lot of injuries in high school, I didnt think I was going to be able to play collegiate softball. So being able to play at Indiana has meant the world to me. Having the opportunity to play at a level where not too many people get to play and getting to meet the people that I have gotten to meet has been an amazing experience. Our senior class has dealt with a lot of adversity and we have learned a lot. I feel fortune that we have come out on top.
Karly: With my softball career being uncertain last year at Central Michigan, having the opportunity to play softball here at Indiana has meant a lot to me. It has meant that I could continue to play the game that I love and that was very important to me.
What is your favorite Indiana softball memory?
Heather: Beating Michigan State last year was one of the happiest memories for me. We had been in a slump for so long and to beat them with a walk-off homerun was awesome. I will never forget the feeling. I have also enjoyed this year. It is amazing to see how much this team has grown.
Abby: I have a lot of great memories being with all the girls and traveling but
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my most favorite memory is beating Purdue, 3-0, to end the season last year.
They had a lot at stake with going to the tournament and they had girls breaking records on the line. We dominated them in that game. They came at us with their best and we gave them ours. It was a great way to end a tough season.
Val: My favorite moment on a team level was a combination of the Michigan State and Purdue wins. It was neat to watch Ashley (Griffiths) hit a walk-off homerun and the excitement we felt winning our first Big Ten game was awesome. Ending the season with a win was a great feeling. On a personal level, hitting my first homerun last year was the most amazing thing because I never thought I would be the kind of hitter that could hit the ball over the fence. I proved to myself that I was and that was awesome.
Karly: My favorite memory this year was our first Big Ten game. The whole team was so excited and we went stepped on the field and played our hearts out.
What do you want your legacy at Indiana to be?
Heather: My hope is that people will learn to be respectful and think through situations before letting their emotions get a hold of them because in my opinion, people dont always come off the way they mean. I also hope that people learn that you have to be selfless at times. You have to be there for people and know that your team is most important.
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Abby: I would like people to remember my sense of humor. Over the last four years, I have learned a lot about myself. I look at the freshman this year and realize that I was like that when I was a freshman and I have learned so much. I feel like the most important aspect I have learned is that you have to have a sense of humor about things and you have to learn to take constructive criticism well. Since our team is so young this year, I hope I have helped them learn to realize that there is a lot more out there than striking out or making an error or even hitting a homerun or making a great play. Its about being there for each other and loving each other and I think that is really important.
Val: I dont know about legacies. I dont know if I am going to leave anything here as a legacy but I know I am taking a lot with me. I know I will be able to touch a lot more lives in the future as a result of my experience here and through the people I have met. I will take with me Heathers ability to relate to people and her patience. I will take Abbys sense of humor. And I will take all the things that I have learned here and hopefully use them in life. This senior class has a legacy because we helped build this program. We have gone from not winning any Big Ten games to winning six so far this season. We are the foundation that this program was built on and that will be our legacy.
Karly: I just want to be remembered as someone who loved the game of softball. I came out every game and worked hard to be successful.
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Now that your collegiate careers are winding down, and you will not be playing everyday and the grueling practice schedule, what are you going to do with all that free time?
Heather: Our working careers are about to be jumped started and we are all pretty family oriented people so having a family will be pretty near in the future. As far as next year, I am going to begin student teaching in the spring and I am going to have a job. I will still be spending time with the girls but I am definitely going to miss the sport.
Abby: Like Heather, I am going to be student teaching next year and taking a lot of classes to finish up. It is going to be hard not being with the girls and not practicing every day. But I am not going to miss the 6 a.m. running and the 6:30 a.m. lifting. I am also going to be working with Andy Campbell in strength and conditioning, so I wont see the girls everyday but I will get to see them two or three times a week. I am excited to just relax and spend more time with my friends.
Val: I am the only senior who will be leaving this year so my free time will probably be a little bit different. Its kinda scary because I am not exactly sure when I am going to be doing but I know I will be starting a career. I will be spending more time with my family and with myself. I am going to miss every one of these girls and I am going to miss playing. I am definitely not going to miss the running or lifting with the leg press but I will miss coming through a hard run and having them be right there with you. I will miss the team aspect and I am going to miss getting better and improving on something physical. I am just going to try and have a normal life next year. I am excited to open up a new chapter.
Plans for after graduation:
Heather: That wont happen for me for another year but I will move back to California when I do graduate. I want to move to San Diego and become a teacher there. I would like to teach health at either an elementary or middle school. I would also like to be a softball coach to young kids who are just learning the game. In my spare time, I would like to also go to cosmetology school so I have a job in the summertime.
Abby: I will graduate in May of 2005. Its nice because I have a year to decide exactly what I want to do. I may move back to California to begin teaching there. I would like to have kids and a family soon too. For now I am just going to enjoy the rest of my time here at Indiana.
Val: I am also going to move back to California. I am going to move back in with my Dad and my sister, which I am excited about because we are all very close. I am going to travel this summer. Because of softball, I have never gotten to travel anywhere outside the continental U.S so my entire family is taking a trip to Hawaii. I am also going to Boston. I am going to get a job and save some money and possibly go to graduate school in the future.
Karly: I will also be back next year, finishing up all of my classes so that I can graduate. I will also work the team next year. After graduation, I plan on moving back to California and begin my career out there."
What is the biggest lesson you have learned during your time her at IU?
Abby: While playing softball, the biggest thing I learned was to take constructive criticism well. And just have fun. When you play on the collegiate level, you think it is just like summer ball but really it is like a job for you. There are a lot of people that I have met through softball that I have learned life lessons from and I am grateful for that. Socially, I have found true friends and I learned that they will stick by you through thick and thin. I really appreciate all the really good friendships that I have made. I am excited for a fifth year to spend more time with those friends.
Val: The biggest lesson I have learned is just to be me. I was not comfortable being myself my freshman and sophomore year. I think that I came into my own during my junior and senior years. I developed friendships aside from the ones I initially made. I learned that life is more positive than I had thought. I learned that I am a good person and as long as you work as hard as you can, no matter what the outcome, you have to be satisfied with the effort you put forth.
Karly: The biggest thing I have learned while here at Indiana is never give up on what you want. I could have quit softball after last year but I had the opportunity to play here at Indiana. In the beginning of this year, we were not supposed to win many games and look at how successful we were. I especially enjoyed the game we won in the late innings. They were the most exciting. We never gave up and kept working hard and it paid off.
Heather: The biggest lesson that I have learned is to live every moment as best as you possibly can. There is always going to be a worse situation. Live like there will not be another second. Enjoy the people that are around you. You dont have to be their best friend but it is awesome to have so many friends, so appreciate it. I have learned who I want to be and who I dont want to be.